Category Archives: hope

Dust to Dust, Ashes to Ashes–A Eulogy

This solemn occasion, in which we gather to bury this loved one, brings the age old question to mind: How do we deal with death?  To be human is to have pondered this inevitable enigma.  The death of someone close to us hurls us into thoughts about our own mortality.  Death is that lonely part of the human journey, the ticket to that solitary ride into the mysterious cosmos and the life beyond.

Death, and how to deal with it, is one of the great themes of literature.  It is the constant concern that motivates thinkers, writers, and philosophers to dive into the depths of the human condition.

We want to know what follows this fragile earthly existence.  What really happens?  Not what this man says nor what that group claims, but what really transpires.  What is the truth concerning that first step beyond this dimension?

Being Christians, we will look to the bestseller of all time, the Holy Bible.  We will look to the ancient Hebrew patriarchs, prophets, apostles, and the Savior Himself for our answers.

What did they say about death?  Not what someone said they said, but what words did they actually write down to explain to us about this experience called death?  Moses reports to us that the LORD (Yahweh in the Hebrew) said to the fallen Adam, “In the sweat of thy face shall you eat bread, till you return unto the ground, for out of it were you taken.  For dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return” (Gen. 3: 19).  Later in Genesis, Abraham said, Look at me.  Here I am about to speak to Yahweh my Creator, and I am only “dust and ashes” (18: 27).  King David says to God, “You have brought me into the dust of death.”

And some say that that is all there is.  We are born; we walk around the earth for a moment in time; we laugh; we cry, and then we cease to be.  But according to the Hebrew authors of the Bible, that is only half of the story.

Yes, our bodies are composed of dust and ashes.  But another very special ingredient must be added.  Take the dust, mix it with water, and add the special spark of the spirit through the miracle of the Master’s touch, and you have the human being–what the apostle Paul called, “the glory of God.”

“There is a spirit in man…”

The prophet Job confirms this when he writes, “There is a spirit in man: and the inspiration of the Almighty gives man understanding” (32: 18).  Inside this miraculously fashioned body of dust lies a spirit given to us by our Creator through which He enlightens us.  Job goes on and says that God speaks to us “in a dream, in a vision of the night, when deep sleep falls upon men, in slumberings upon the bed; then God opens the ears of men, and seals their instruction, that God may withdraw man” from his own purpose, and hide pride from man.”

God reaches out to us as we walk “through this valley of the shadow of death.”  Job later explains how our “soul draws near to the grave.”  Then God says to his messengers, “Deliver them from going down to the pit; I have found a ransom.”

God promises to restore us to our youth if we say to our Maker, “I have sinned, and perverted that which is right…then He will deliver us from going to the pit, and his life shall see the light” (Job 33: 15-28).

Hope in the Resurrection

Who will deliver us from the grave?  2,000 years before the Savior walked the streets of Jerusalem, Job wrote, “For I know that my Redeemer lives,  and that He shall stand at the latter day upon the earth,” and though my body be destroyed, “yet in my flesh shall I see God” (18: 25-26).

The prophet Daniel confirmed this hope of life after our earthly body passes away.  Michael the archangel told him that the resurrection will take place after the great “time of trouble” that will befall the earth in the latter days.  At that time your people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book.  And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt” (12: 1-2).

So, there it is.  In these few passages, we see a resurrection that will lift us up out of the dust of our graves.   The resurrection is our only hope, and that hope hinges on our Redeemer and Savior.  Christ said, “I am the resurrection and the life.”
It is now left up to us the living to seek out and find our own way with our Maker.  It is a personal thing.  We all must find the path that leads out of the dust and ashes of death and be reconciled with God.  We can help each other, of course, but we cannot “walk that lonesome valley” for someone else.

And so, now, we commend Scott Kenneth Hancock’s spirit back to the Heavenly Father from whence it came, and in fulfillment of scripture, we place his dust and ashes back into the earth from whence it came.

May God’s grace and mercy help us all on our journey back to the heart of God.  Amen.

[Remembering my Dad with these words spoken over his grave ten years ago.]        Kenneth Wayne Hancock

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Filed under death, end time prophecy, eternal life, glorification, hope, resurrection, Uncategorized, Yahweh

A Lesson in Wisdom

Who is that one person that you love so much that you would give all your assets and possessions, even your own soul, so that they could live on for ever and never have to taste death, never have to lie there cold and ashen, prepared for burial?

We all have someone, surely, that we would give everything to redeem them from the inevitable decay that awaits them in the belly of the earth.

But we cannot make them live on for ever.  We do not possess the power to save them.  They will die; the graveyards are full of people that someone loved dearly yet could not prevent their demise.

I remember the scene at the graveyard.  Most of the mourners had left.  Hugging the casket of the 20 year old young man was his grandfather, sobbing and moaning, “But I loved him.  My darling boy.  But I loved him!”  And in that instant I knew that he would have given his very own life in exchange for his grandson’s.  But he could not.

We mortal human beings cannot redeem, for any price, someone that we love.  Our riches cannot be brought and given to God as a ransom paid in order to purchase the life of our loved one and thus prevent them from dying.

It is only God Almighty, the Giver of life to our loved one, who will take back that life at a certain time.  We are not in control of life or death.  God is, and He will take our lives back to Himself. And there is nothing we can do to alter this fact.  Rooms full of gold cannot purchase a ticket out of death.

And God has ordained this so, as a lesson for us to learn, a lesson to teach us wisdom and understanding, a lesson for all people in the world, rich and poor and high and low.  The lesson lies in us facing up to this truth: that God is sovereign and in complete control of our scheduled descent into the dusty tomb of the earth.

As we contemplate this, it is God’s hope that we distill drops of sorely needed wisdom, which is the “fear of the LORD (Yahweh).”  Wisdom is being in reverential awe of this God, who is in control, who has given us a short time in these earthly bodies to learn of Him and His love, who will someday soon take the spark of His spirit back, and our fragile shells will fall to the ground, taking nothing with them, no matter how richly arrayed they once were.

Wisdom is being in awe of Him.  And understanding is “to depart from evil.”  He hopes that these thoughts will awaken His people to His saving power, for He is the only power in the universe that can and has trumped death.

And when we realize all this, that He has already paid the price for our resurrection, then this meditation on our weakness and His power over death will have done its job on us.  For the above is the lesson found in Psalm 49.  Read it all again.  It is addressed to you, to all of us.  “Hear this, all peoples; give ear, all inhabitants of the world…my mouth shall speak wisdom.”      Kenneth Wayne Hancock

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Patience–Enduring the “Sufferings of This Present Time”

As the sons and daughters of God, we are to add certain spiritual attributes of God’s “divine nature.”  This is how we become “partakers of His divine nature” (II Peter 1: 4-7).  This assures our inheritance as His sons and daughters. These attributes are added in sequence–in layers, if you will.  To our faith we add virtue, and then knowledge onto it.  Then we add temperance to that knowledge.  Then we add patience onto the temperance.

Patience.  Patience.  Oh, how we all need patience in this hurry-scurry world!  This world that careens through our conscious hours robs us of this important godly essence–patience.  The swirling, rushing pace of our 21st Century lives conspire against us in our search for truth.  Patience is needed to even read this simple article on patience.

For all that we see and hear is temporary.  We will be able to temper the appetites of our earthly bodies more easily when we realize how transitory–how utterly perishable our bodies are.  When we believe this and wholeheartedly acknowledge the need for God’s promise of our immortal house from heaven, we will more easily shift our focus from the temporary to the eternal.

The Next Step in Adding the Divine Nature

And that next step is adding patience to the temperance.  But in order to add patience, which is the ability to endure the sufferings of Christ, we must understand just what those sufferings are.  Paul speaks of them when he writes, “The sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us” (Rom. 8: 18).  This “glory” is, of course, that destiny of God’s elect after they have grown spiritually to full maturity, which is the evidence of them partaking of the divine nature.

But those “sufferings” spoken of by the apostle is the sojourn we are experiencing in these mortal earthly bodies.  For “we have this treasure [of the Spirit] in earthen vessels” (II Cor. 4:7).  And that is the root of our current spiritual problem.  Our bodies are, alas, mere temporary bottles holding the water of the Spirit.

“This present time” in which these sufferings are being endured is our time now  in our earthly bodies.  Our perishable fragile mortal bodies will too soon return to dust.  Now is our time of waiting with long patience, trusting God will deliver us from the long sleep that awaits us, tucked in dust in the tomb of the earth.

Temporarily housed in our earthly tabernacles at “this present time,” we have a universal thirst that yearns to be quenched.  And that desire is to live on.  And whether cognizant of it or not, we are waiting in “earnest expectation…for the manifestation of the sons of God” (Rom. 8: 19).

And so we who have a portion of His Spirit, for a dry season at present, find ourselves trapped in a shell that will die soon.  And so we wait for our forerunners, the sons of God to be unveiled first, for they are the firstfruits.  And so we are waiting for these offspring of the Almighty to come onto the scene.

For they will give His other children great hope when they are seen striding this earth–a hope that they, too, can be “delivered from the bondage of corruption,” which is the cruel slavery that our present mortal bodies inflict on us in our new spiritual journey.

Slaves to Our Own Mortality

Our earthly bodies are decaying as they grow older each day, and we are not free to ascend and descend at will.  We are on a timetable, slated to expire, most likely before the age of 80–whether we want to or not.  That’s slavery; that’s being in bondage to our own mortality.  That is the “bondage of corruption.”  In the earthly sense, we are slaves to our own decay and impending death.

In our youth we were not aware of this impending decay of our earthly body.  Hence, we thought ourselves invincible and immortal.  But as we get older and see our bodies deteriorate, we see that we become the slaves to our own bodily limitations.  We begin to admit that we cannot do what we once did.  Our age, brought on by the ravages of time, becomes our master and limits us and dictates to us what we can and cannot do.  This is the “bondage of corruption.”

Aging is the accumulation of many miles and years on the human body.  Aging is that onerous sign announcing our impending physical passing.  But this daily physical decay of our bodies does not work on our spirits.  We can take heart in this, that “though our outward man perish, our inward man is renewed day by day” (II Cor. 4: 16).  And this renewing is the “partaking of the divine nature,” the adding to our faith of which we speak.

So why death?

And so we ask God, Why do we have to die?  Why give us a mortal body, God?  Why subject us to all this suffering?  The short answer: God created us “subject to vanity.”  He deliberately subjected us to mortality in hope that we would be delivered into immortality.  He made us to suffer this mortal existence in hope that we would seek Him, who is Life Himself, and in so doing find eternal life, which is the fulfillment of His promise to them who seek Him and love Him.

God has dangled death ever before us so that we would seek Him.  He reasoned that our looming demise would spur us to seek Him for answers to our dilemma.  Surely we would call on Him, the Giver of Life, to help us solve this problem of mortality if we were confronted with the sadness of first, the loss of loved ones and then, finally, ourselves.

God provided a law ingrained into the universe, as sure as gravity, that if we seek Him for the truth, we would find it.  “Seek and ye shall find; knock and it shall be opened unto you,” Christ promised (Matt. 7: 7).

And so, confronted by the sufferings of our mortal worries, we turn to God.  And His words resound through the ages to our hearts and tell us the answer to the riddle of our faint existence.  He tells us that He is the Fount from which the blessing of immortality flows.  And it starts with believing in the resurrection of His Son.  And latching onto that faith in Him begins our own new life, ending in the complete inheritance of a new spiritual body that will swallow up this old earthly one (I Cor. 15).

He seems to be saying, Surely when they see my Son arise from the dead, they will turn to Me in great hope that My resurrection power will one day raise them up as well.

His resurrection is our hope to escape the dusty tombs of death.  And yet, the sufferings continue.  And as He teaches us and helps us to endure all things, we add patience.  For patience is that part of God’s nature that endures.  It lasts.  And as we continue our sojourn in these earthly vessels, He grants to us patience by infusing us with experiences that helps us endure, that gives us rather things to endure.

Yes, “tribulation worketh patience” or “suffering produces endurance” (Rom. 5: 3).  Earthly wisdom shuns all sufferings.  The wisdom from above prescribes it.  That is why He allows us to suffer–so that we can become like Him.  For He planned those very steps of suffering for Himself, and if we want to be His sons and daughters, we must suffer with Him.  That’s a tough one.  That is why “few are chosen” (Matt. 22: 14).  Those chosen are the elect, and they will submit to the plan along with its sufferings, much like those chosen for our Special Forces endure the sufferings that the training entails.  It all comes with the territory.  To reign with Him we must suffer with Him (II Tim. 2: 12).   Kenneth Wayne Hancock

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Receiving Immortality and Overcoming Death, Our “Last Enemy”

The saddest, darkest, and most hopeless day is to believe that when we and our loved ones die, then that’s it; there’s no tomorrow.  Death is our “last enemy.”  And Death stalks us, and our minds scurry away from it.  Our mortal condition haunts us and causes us to at times run and hide from having to think about Death.

But God has made a promise–that all those who believe in the Savior will be rewarded in receiving immortality.  This is our hope (1).    Our day of adoption into this immortal realm is when we receive our immortal spiritual bodies in the future on a certain date (2).

Many of His followers will have to face the fact that their earthly bodies will expire before that glorious date comes (3).  The encouraging part is that He has given a portion of His Spirit to them.  They carry His Spirit within their mortal bodies.  And with it, they not only “put to death” old deeds of the flesh, but also bear spiritual gifts to the unenlightened–to help them enter into the truth.

For His promise to us is that even if we die this earthly death before that certain date in the future, He will grant unto us a new immortal body and with it everlasting life.  So whether we die or whether we live on till He come back, we are assured in our hearts, when we believe that He will do what He said He will do in granting us immortality.

He grants unto us His mortal believers His Spirit, which is a down payment, a kind of spiritual earnest “money,” if you will, until that day (4).   We then wield the Spirit as a sword, cutting off every thought of minds that come against the truth.  Every grudge, every insincere gesture, every fear do we deal a death blow.  In so doing, we shall have an abundant door provided unto us to enter His Kingdom of the Immortals (5).       Kenneth Wayne Hancock

  1. Romans 8: 23-24
  2. Romans 8: 15
  3. II Cor. 5: 1-4; 4: 7
  4. II Cor. 1: 22
  5. II Peter 1: 11

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